Tools for Nurses: Organizing Electronic Reading Material
Electronically active nurses and nursing students (presumably, readers of this blog, or they wouldn’t be reading this post) need a way to organize the large amount of online material available for education—or entertainment, for that matter. You may view, on any given day,
- Several e-mails from professional organizations, each containing links to articles of interest to you
- Facebook links posted by friends or “liked” organizations that you would like to read
- Links posted by Twitter contacts whose judgment you trust
- Articles and blog posts from your RSS feeds, Flipboard interest groups, or other content curation tools
- Newsletters from your school or employer
It is not always convenient to stop and read each item as you become aware of it. The usual temptations are initially to start bookmarking blog posts and articles in some way through your browser, starring or flagging e-mails that contain items of interest, starring or flagging RSS feed items, and/or e-mailing articles back to yourself (possibly also with a star or flag) for later viewing. The problem with these methods, particularly in combination, is that they disperse reading material over several “things that have to be checked.” In combination with a routine that includes checking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so on, it makes sense to consolidate the number of “things that have to be checked.”
This is a common issue, and multiple solutions exist. One is Evernote, a comprehensive cross-platform system that holds text, photos, PDFs, and, depending on whether you pay for the service, movies and other formats. Evernote has Web bookmarklets and clippers for most browsers and allows items to be e-mailed in or dragged and dropped (depending on the platform). The main issue with Evernote is that if you plan to use a system that allows you to view material on the go, Evernote does not sync and allow offline viewing without a paid plan.
Therefore, if you do need a system that allows offline viewing, consider Instapaper, Readability, or Pocket (formerly the aptly named “Read It Later”). The unifying factor for all three is that they allow collection of items you don’t time to read right now but want to keep in a unified place to read when you do have time, whether that be at your desktop, in line at Wal-Mart, or on the treadmill at the gym. The way this works is that you zoom through all the things you look at daily: e-mail (forward the e-mail to the service of your choice or open enclosed links in a browser and bookmark them), Twitter (these services are options in many popular Twitter clients), Facebook (bookmark from browser), and RSS (bookmark from browser). Then open the app on your portable device and sync; you’ll be able to read everything anywhere, as you have time. Read up on all three and consider your needs before committing to one.
- Instapaper is the most sophisticated, including features such as folders, social media involvement, and curated links
- Readability and Pocket have mobile applications for both iOS and Android, whereas Instapaper is iOS only
- Instapaper and Readability have text-only formatting options for articles and blog posts that remove distracting sidebars and leave, well, only the text
- Pocket allows the saving and viewing of photos and video as well as text, thus overcoming a major limitation of the text-only Instapaper and Readability
- Instapaper and Pocket allow organization with either folders or tags for archiving or follow-up, whereas Readability goes only as far as starring items
All three have points in their favor, and it is worth learning how to use one of these systems. It saves time and results in you spending more time productively reading material you wanted to read at some point and less time trying to organize yourself.
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